Best Tortoise Pets: 5 Top Picks

by Luke Tansley on in Tortoises

At Northampton Reptile Centre, we have a wide range of experience in keeping and selling tortoises.

When choosing your pet tortoise it can be very overwhelming on selecting what species to buy, especially as they will become your lifelong pet.

To give you an insight into a few of the different types of tortoises, below is a list of some of my favourite to keep and why (I have all of these species at home!).

1. Mediterranean Spur-thighed tortoises

Mediterranean Spur-thighed tortoises

The Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) is a species that I can’t recommend highly enough. If you are just getting into keeping tortoises, then these will make the ultimate pet for you. When kept in the correct setup, they are fairly easy to care for.

Due to them being one of the smaller species of tortoise (not to be confused with the African spur-thighed tortoise!), it is easy to purchase a one-off set up for them that can last their whole lifetime.

These tortoises, in particular, are more active during the day making them a great pet for interaction. They love to interact with their keeper, explore their enclosures and spend time outside on the sunnier days throughout summer.

2. Leopard tortoise

Leopard tortoise

Leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) are very popular in the reptile trade due to their stunning markings and larger size. If you are looking for a bigger (but not too big!) species of tortoise then these are definitely the one for you.

They are a species that don’t appreciate being handled too much, and as adults, they tend to become too heavy to handle anyway! But they will love to interact with their owners and can spend time outside of their setup on hotter days during summer.

Leopard tortoises DO NOT hibernate meaning they are great for people who want to steer clear of the hibernation process and can be interacted with all year round!

>> View Recommended Leopard Tortoise Setup

3. Red-footed tortoise

Red-footed tortoise

The red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) is the most popular South American species. If you can’t already tell why from their stunning markings, then their characters will definitely convince you.

Even though they do require a slightly more humid setup, they are definitely worth the effort! These are a species that require more protein in their diet making them different to most other species and will devour ‘pinky’ mice or chicks if offered to them. They can be very curious meaning they love to explore what is going on around them, and are rarely shy of human contact.

>> View Recommended Red Footed Tortoise Setup

4. Indian Star tortoise

Indian Star tortoise

Indian Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) are one of the most attractive tortoises kept as pets due to their beautiful markings. Within captivity, there are rumours about them being a fragile species to care for, however, when given the correct setup, they can be just as easy as any other tortoise.

They are another species that should not be hibernated, so you have an all-year round pet! They can appear fairly shy when it comes to handling so a calm approach is the best option. Once they get into a routine, they can become less shy, especially at feeding times!

>> View Recommended Indian Star Tortoise Setup

5. African Spur-thighed tortoise

African Spur-thighed tortoise

The African Spur-thighed tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) is the most popular bigger species of tortoise available in captivity. They can grow up to 36 inches in length which is something that should definitely be kept in mind before purchasing a hatchling as their lifetime set up needs reflect their adult size!

As youngsters, they can be shy at first but as adults, they come out of their shell and are one of the most interactive tortoises and will often approach their owners without any prompting. These do not need hibernating, increasing the level of interaction making them a very fun pet to have!

Want to know what tortoises are currently available at Northampton Reptile Centre? Check out our animal list and prices.

If you would like detailed information on these (or any) tortoise species, please email or call 01604 753823.

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About Luke Tansley

Luke works within the customer service department at At home he keeps hognose snakes, bearded dragons and kingsnakes.